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acrh2
01-13-06, 10:23 AM
I have this problem with X-FI Fatal1ty. Maybe someone knows what to do about it...

I'm trying to get 3D positional sound to work through regular stereo headphones using CMSS 3D. The way I have it set up is as follows:
the win xp Control Panel is set to 5.1, X-FI audio console is set to "headphones" or "2/2.1 speakers", and CMSS 3D is enabled at default settings. It does work - the 5.1 sounds from, say, a game is downmixed to stereo with 3D positional effects mixed in (sounds coming from behind are of a different tone, and actually sound like they come from behind). There are problems however.

With "headphones" setting, the sound quality is atrocious - the sound is muddy and boomy. The 3D positional audio effects work great - I can pinpoint every direction from which the sound is coming fairly accurately. Note that without CMSS 3D, the "headphone" setting sounds great.

With "2/2.1 speakers" setting, the sound quality is normal (sounds great on my HD555 headphones), but the 3D positional audio effects are not good - audio control panel in X-FI software allows only a maximum of 120 degrees setting for the angle between the speakers, whereas 180 degrees would be required to simulate 3D effects through headphones (X-FI software has two settings for that actually, (+/-)60 degrees maximum for each speaker, with the reference angle of zero degrees being directly in front of the listener - directly in between the two speakers).

So my questions is this. Has anyone figured out how to either improve the quality of the sound with "headphones" setting, or increase the angles of the speakers to (+/-)90 degrees (180 total) with "2/2.1 speakers" setting?

Superfly
01-13-06, 11:17 AM
no idea - im still sorting out music playback, hav'nt got near the game mode settings yet.

OWA
01-13-06, 11:35 AM
It sounds great with my headphones. I don't know what the XP control panel is set to. I just set the X-Fi control panel to headphones and have the CMSS 3D on. No problems to report.

acrh2
01-13-06, 12:03 PM
It sounds great with my headphones. I don't know what the XP control panel is set to. I just set the X-Fi control panel to headphones and have the CMSS 3D on. No problems to report.

Please try this. Start playing an mp3. Then open the X-FI audio control panel with the CMSS 3D option. Turn it on and off. Please tell me if you can hear dramatic difference in sound quality.

P.S. Well, I am not 100% sure on this. Don't you have to tell the game somehow that you want 5.1 sound? I know for a fact that many games will not emulate 5.1 sound just on their own.
Even Quake4 needs OpenAL capable sound card for that.

So, I think (I'm guessing) that you pretty much MUST set the windows control panel to 5.1, or all you'll get is stereo.

Superfly
01-13-06, 12:17 PM
CMSS 3D may well require 5.1 for best output - otherwise whats the point?? - CMSS 3D Headphones is a different animal (is'nt it??)

Im sure its just creating a virtual 3D sound enviroment from whatever the source, be it stereo or proper 5.1 output.

There's a very good chance everything I just posted is complete nonsense.....Im an X-Fi noob.

Superfly
01-13-06, 12:25 PM
Update:

In game Mode console - with CMSS 3D enabled, whenever I change the speaker setup it Auto changes the CMSS 3D mode - ie: from Headphones to surround if I switch speaker settings from headphones to 5.1. So CMSS 3D works whatever your speaker settings as it auto-configures itself accordingly......

acrh2
01-13-06, 02:04 PM
Update:

In game Mode console - with CMSS 3D enabled, whenever I change the speaker setup it Auto changes the CMSS 3D mode - ie: from Headphones to surround if I switch speaker settings from headphones to 5.1. So CMSS 3D works whatever your speaker settings as it auto-configures itself accordingly......

While you post is a little beside the point, I'll answer it. After playing with this sound business for about 10 hours yesterday, I found that each speaker setting is recorded for each speaker set. THX console seems to be responsible for that, and the current settings are stores in a file called THX.ini . Another set of files used for that by the THX console itself have .sbf extension.
I've not found the place where these settings are saved for each configuration. Maybe it's in the registry. All in all, Creative way of dealing with settings doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me.
But anyway, whatever you saw and thought to be autoconfiguration is simply the X-FI software remembering old settings (deafult in your case).
If you change things around, the audio console will "autocongfigure" itself differently, to what you set, next time.

LTech221
01-13-06, 02:22 PM
acrh2 this has always been normal with Creative cards, well the Live it just sounded like that CMSS or not just horrible but your sacrificing sq for positional effects. For other cards like the VIA ENvy when I tried its Sensaura 3d mode it sounded similar if not worse in SQ than teh X-Fi's Headphone CMSS3d mode. I do like the fact though that the HRTF's are vastly improved over the audigy series and sorta remind me of the Aureal 3d Days. I wish the clarity would be normal but I guess we gotta sacrifice something to get that surround effect over headphones.

OWA
01-13-06, 02:31 PM
Please try this. Start playing an mp3. Then open the X-FI audio control panel with the CMSS 3D option. Turn it on and off. Please tell me if you can hear dramatic difference in sound quality.

P.S. Well, I am not 100% sure on this. Don't you have to tell the game somehow that you want 5.1 sound? I know for a fact that many games will not emulate 5.1 sound just on their own.
Even Quake4 needs OpenAL capable sound card for that.

So, I think (I'm guessing) that you pretty much MUST set the windows control panel to 5.1, or all you'll get is stereo.
I don't deal with the Windows control panel at all I get positional sound behind me, around me, etc. in games. The only thing I deal with the X-Fi controls. Their 3D test also works fine and I have it set to headphones. I don't know what the Windows CP is set to though. Maybe it is set to 5.1, I'll have to check.

As for MP3s, if that is all you're talking about (i.e. music), I agree. I don't use the 3D option for music since it doesn't sound all that great with fast/upbeat type music especially if there is a lot of bass. I figured that was a limitation of fake surround sound techniques though since it's that way with other techniques that are supposed to expand sound like SRS, etc. For example, my wireless headphones have a fake surround mode and it has the same problem with fast/upbeat type music (boomy and muddled). So, I don't use it for music.

I use these settings: Games - 3D on, Crystalizer off, Music - Crystalizer on, 3D off, Movies - it varies.

wheeljack12
01-13-06, 02:42 PM
that is why I picked up these babies. All you guys with the high quality sennheisers,etc. and you have to play around to get the positional sound. Saved myself the trouble with the zalman 5.1' zm-rs6f headphones. If you get the zm-rsa amp, you can have the 5.1 headphones and 5.1 speakers connected at the same time. very nice and easy to use if you don't want to changing wires all the time.

www.zalmanusa.com

acrh2
01-13-06, 02:49 PM
that is why I picked up these babies. All you guys with the high quality sennheisers,etc. and you have to play around to get the positional sound. Saved myself the trouble with the zalman 5.1' zm-rs6f headphones. If you get the zm-rsa amp, you can have the 5.1 headphones and 5.1 speakers connected at the same time. very nice and easy to use if you don't want to changing wires all the time.

www.zalmanusa.com

I have a pair of Zalmans, as well as a pair of Ezonics. Either one sounds worse than what I'm trying to resolve with "headphones"+CMSS On with HD555.

Superfly
01-13-06, 04:08 PM
Played 3 hours of CSS with CMSS 3D headphone enabled and had great positional sound, Windows was set to stereo speakers as always and I had my 2.1's plugged into the X-Fi with the headphones comming off the 2.1's (as always).

Used game mode with no Crystalizer or EQ - just set the speaker's to headphones in the game mode panel and enabled CMSS 3D.

worked first time and sounded fantastic.

Its cool that the different "Modes" remember your speaker settings accordingly - ie: headphones for gaming mode and 2.1 for entertainment mode - that saves so much hassle!!!!!

Oh - I have also deleted both of the creative start-up entries (CT Helper and someting else), I have always done this with creative cards - indeed FEAR has an issue with CT Helper if I remember correctly.

acrh2
01-13-06, 04:44 PM
One guy from Creative forum and Hardforum mentioned that there was big thread on how HL2 had to be set to output to 5.1 to get 3D positional sound, which apparently is not how DirectSound3D applications are supposed to do it.

But the point is, you have to let the game know somehow that 5.1 output it needed.
Most games of the past required either setting it manually or through windows control panel.

The reason for that is until X-FI there hasn't been a soundcard (that I am aware of) which would do something like this new CMSS 3D - downmixing from 5.1 to 2-channel with positional effects. There have been attempts, but they never really worked (was it called something like HRTF, UT2k3?).

Hopefully all future games will do this automatically, and there won't be the need to set things to 5.1 manually. But for compatibility with older games reasons, the safest way would probably be to set your windows control panel to 5.1.

acrh2
01-13-06, 04:47 PM
Played 3 hours of CSS with CMSS 3D headphone enabled and had great positional sound, Windows was set to stereo speakers as always and I had my 2.1's plugged into the X-Fi with the headphones comming off the 2.1's (as always).

Used game mode with no Crystalizer or EQ - just set the speaker's to headphones in the game mode panel and enabled CMSS 3D.

worked first time and sounded fantastic.

Its cool that the different "Modes" remember your speaker settings accordingly - ie: headphones for gaming mode and 2.1 for entertainment mode - that saves so much hassle!!!!!

Oh - I have also deleted both of the creative start-up entries (CT Helper and someting else), I have always done this with creative cards - indeed FEAR has an issue with CT Helper if I remember correctly.

By the way, would you mind doing what I asked OWA to do in a post above?
I would like to confirm this issue with as many people as I can, so I can attack Creative and get them to fix it, if it's a bug.

Superfly
01-13-06, 05:00 PM
dude you dont need a 5.1 source for the 3D Headphones mode - I've just played Q4, FEAR, CSS and NFSMW and it works beautifully in all those games with my speakers setup as desktop stereo in both the Windows CP and in game, the game mode panel was set to headphone mode as I said above.

As for mp3's - I dont use CMSS for music but TBH I dont really see the bug your trying to get at?? - as it all works fine here.

einstein_314
01-13-06, 05:26 PM
Ok, I just tried what you said. THe sound does change a bit but not that much. Why would you want to convert your stereo mp3's into surround on your headphones? Doesn't make any sense to me.

As for the setting in the windows cp, there is a check box that automatically makes it the same as whatever you have set in the creative settings. As soon as you plug in your headphones, it changes to stereo.

superklye
01-13-06, 05:51 PM
Ok, I just tried what you said. THe sound does change a bit but not that much. Why would you want to convert your stereo mp3's into surround on your headphones? Doesn't make any sense to me.

As for the setting in the windows cp, there is a check box that automatically makes it the same as whatever you have set in the creative settings. As soon as you plug in your headphones, it changes to stereo.
yeah, i was going to say to do th at...it makes no sense to NOT have it set up this way.

ynnek
01-13-06, 06:09 PM
One guy from Creative forum and Hardforum mentioned that there was big thread on how HL2 had to be set to output to 5.1 to get 3D positional sound, which apparently is not how DirectSound3D applications are supposed to do it.

But the point is, you have to let the game know somehow that 5.1 output it needed.
Most games of the past required either setting it manually or through windows control panel.

The reason for that is until X-FI there hasn't been a soundcard (that I am aware of) which would do something like this new CMSS 3D - downmixing from 5.1 to 2-channel with positional effects. There have been attempts, but they never really worked (was it called something like HRTF, UT2k3?).

Hopefully all future games will do this automatically, and there won't be the need to set things to 5.1 manually. But for compatibility with older games reasons, the safest way would probably be to set your windows control panel to 5.1.


hey, how do you set it up manually in Source? I thought it forced me into headphone mode.. Last time I tried, the test didnt work when I used headphones and forced source into 5.1

keith33
01-13-06, 06:10 PM
HOLY TITS, I just picked up the XtremeMusic card for cheap (came out to ~$20) when I sold my Audigy, and this thing OOOOOOOOOWNS. I've never heard sound like this except from $100k surround systems hooked to $20,000 recievers. I feel like I got an ear transplant because I'm hearing all these sounds in music and games that I never ever heard before. WOW JUST WOW. Creative hit a home f**kin' run with this puppy, Xtreme Fidelity :D:D:D:D:D:D

Really apologize if this was off topic but I needed to shout this out as loud as possible. And the positional audio for my Z5500s is more precise than my threshold of hearing. WOW :)

OWA
01-13-06, 06:12 PM
My Windows CP is set to stereo headphones and I get positional sound in the games I play. I don't really have any older games installed though.

jolle
01-13-06, 06:13 PM
hey, how do you set it up manually in Source? I thought it forced me into headphone mode.. Last time I tried, the test didnt work when I used headphones and forced source into 5.1
I was acctually fiddling with that yesterday.. I think both 7.1 and 5.1 set in CS:source gave REALLY low volume on the REAR channels (when X-Fi set to "Headphone")..
It worked to choose them, and at first I thought positioning was a bit better, but then I noticed sounds disappearing behind me..

acrh2
01-13-06, 06:27 PM
Ok, I just tried what you said. THe sound does change a bit but not that much. Why would you want to convert your stereo mp3's into surround on your headphones? Doesn't make any sense to me.

As for the setting in the windows cp, there is a check box that automatically makes it the same as whatever you have set in the creative settings. As soon as you plug in your headphones, it changes to stereo.

Ok Einstein.
The reason why I said "mp3" is because it's the easiest way to test.

Instead, load any game in windowed mode. Get to some place where there's a continuos sound effect, then switch CMSS on and off.
If you can't tell the differnce like day and night, you are deaf.

Superfly
01-14-06, 02:42 AM
your attitude sucks ass acrh2 - personnally I have no intention of helping you now.

what a twat.

acrh2
01-14-06, 04:29 AM
your attitude sucks ass acrh2 - personnally I have no intention of helping you now.

what a twat.

Help me, help me please!!!!

acrh2
01-14-06, 04:43 AM
To anyone who actually can tell good sound from bad sound:

Set your sound setup to "2/2.1 speakers", enable CMSS 3D, then edit this file:
C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Creative\Spi\{00000005-00000000-00000008-00001202-00000005-00231302}\THX\THX.ini

Change lines 2 and 4 to look like this:
[Spatializer]
2=90
3=1
4=90
5=1

Then reboot.